Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The version of "The red warp story" with at least 85% less cussing

I originally posted this story on Ravelry the other day, in a forum where my occasional extreme potty mouth is not only accepted but expected. I think I'm now sufficiently calmed down enough to post it here with significantly fewer strings of naughty words.*

The background: I’m working on a project with a group of friends that started out a secret, but now is not. I've been babbling on about different parts of it for months. We’re weaving a pillow on my loom, which will be embroidered, finished and presented to some fine folks by the group. Since this is for an SCA (historical re-enactment) thing, we’ve made the weft yarn and the embroidery thread from sheep to finish - some members of the group attended the shearing, we all dealt with the raw wool, some dyed it, some spun it. It looks great and is working out just fine.

Since the weaving will be done on my loom, I made the call several months ago that we should go with a commercial yarn for the warp. It will be under tension on the loom and we didn’t know until recently how the lady-with-the-wheel’s handspun would hold up. To be a little more authentic, we bought a cone of white 2-ply commercial Shetland wool and dyed it red ourselves with cochineal.

Last Saturday, I started measuring it out on the warping board. By Sunday evening, I had it 3/4 measured.

At that point, I hit a snag in the yarn, so I sat down to pick it apart. I absent-mindedly gave it a good tug.

The yarn snapped apart in my hands.

Surprised, I pulled out another bit of yarn and did a tug test. It snapped like candy. No kidding. Wanna see?

I twisted two pieces together, tightly, hoping that if I doubled it up it would be OK. Nope. Snapped like a dry twig. This is bad. It can’t possibly stand up to the tension on the loom. I have 900 yards of red warp thread that I don’t dare waste my time threading onto my loom - it will break the minute I put any tension on it at all.

Here is where the strings of cussing came in. I have edited it down to a single word that sucinctly expresses my feelings:


This yarn? Is crap. It is weaker than my own handspun singles. Alas, the label neglected to mention that. I thought I gave it the old tug test when I first looked at it, but maybe not. It was sold as weaving yarn, from a weaving shop, so I just trusted that it was fine. I don't blame the shop, though.** It's also entirely possible that when I bought it, I neglected to mention that I was planning to use it for warp, and they assumed I wanted it for weft. I’ve been handling it for months and never noticed, never thought to check - and since we dyed it all, I can't be totally sure if it was this weak when I bought it, or if we ruined it in the cochineal/tin dyebath or subsequent hand washings.***

Total cost? Not much. $13 for the cone and about $8 for the dye materials. And several days of mine and a couple others’ time and sweat - mostly mine. I have no idea how I didn’t notice this before now. I honestly don’t know if this yarn is useable for anything.

As I was sitting there stewing and cursing under my breath, DH, who was quietly typing and observing the whole scene from a safe distance of a few feet away, asked if there was anything I needed. “Red yarn,” I said testily and with probably not a little sarcasm. “Wool, about this weight, that won’t fucking snap when I look at it funny.”

“Anything I actually have?” he asked, with infinite patience.

Pause. A few seconds passed. “A big fucking glass of port. This seriously requires alcohol.”

I rarely drink. I’m no tea-totaler, but booze gives me heartburn, one standard glass is enough that I can’t operate machinery, and my usual reaction to being even mildly drunk is to fall asleep. But DH didn’t even blink. He pulled out the bottle of port and emptied it into my glass.

Yesterday, I made an emergency yarn run and found some useable warp yarn. It’s not really a big deal. I am moving on. But sometimes you just have to say, "Screw it. Bottom’s up."

* Yes, I know anyone could look me up and find the original post on Ravelry. That's fine. Go for it. I am not embarrassed by it, nor is all the language edited out here, obviously. I'm simply providing a buffer between my in-person full-on rants and any readers with potentially more sensitive ears. Er, eyes. Whatever. It's just a courtesy.

** I will, however, be making a trip up there next week with a friend to check the cones on their shelves and see if I'm imagining it or if it really was this weak when I bought it, and to let them know, if they don't already, that it is absolutely, positively not suitable for warp.

*** ETA: I have since found two samples that the shop sent to me before I bought the cone. They are the same yarn, in red. We decided after getting them that we would use that yarn, only dye it ourselves. I tested one of the samples and it, too, snapped with little trouble. So I'm now pretty certain it's the yarn, not our cochineal/tin dyebath.

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